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8 Sales Pros Tell Us What Makes an Awesome SDR

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8 Sales Pros Tell Us What Makes an Awesome SDR

We asked eight sales development experts what makes a top-notch SDR. Here's their advice on how to become one or hire one.

Ah, the truly great SDR. They’re a unicorn 🦄  species, only coming around once in a blue moon. And when you get one on your team, you know you’ve got something special. 

Whether you’re interested in becoming a great SDR yourself or hiring one onto your sales development team, there are a few common skills to keep in mind. 

We sat down with eight amazing SDRs, SDR managers, and recruitment specialists to get the lowdown on what pushes an SDR to greatness. They’ve shared both the necessary attributes for success and how to recruit these unicorns onto your sales development team. Let’s dig in – 

Traits of a marvelous SDR

1. They’re empathetic

A good SDR needs an army of skills in their portfolio. But, when we asked our experts, there was one trait cited above all.

James Buckley, Head of Business Development of Attest, explains, “Empathy – it’s all about if your SDR can relate to your buyer and others around them.” 

Aleksandra Andree, expert SDR and current Vendors Associate at Gartner, elaborates, “Above all, great SDRs have patience and empathy. It’s important to be able to recognize your prospects’ situation and point of view so you can deliver the most value.”

Overall, B2B sales should always be thought of as human-to-human connection. And especially in the era of digital overload and sales at scale, humans are more apt to trust your product when they feel understood and heard. 

“Great SDRs have patience and empathy. It’s important to be able to recognize your prospects’ point of view so you can deliver the most value.”

Aleksandra Andree, Vendors Associate at Gartner

2. They stay curious

Curiosity may not have helped out the cat 🙀 , but it certainly makes for a Grade-A SDR. 

Mariona Serra, former Managing Director of SDR recruiting specialists Outbound People, advises noting an SDR’s level of curiosity during the interview. 

She shares, “Pay attention to which questions they ask you. Were they creative and effective in learning about you and your organization? Remember that excelling as an SDR is mostly about asking the right questions to the prospect to uncover what’s really going on. So, are they replicating this procedure with you?”

Aleksandra echoes the sentiment, “You have to be curious and willing to learn and develop within your role as an SDR constantly. It will not only help you become a better SDR but will help you find your next career path.”

Whether hiring a great SDR or becoming one, our experts say that curiosity is a crucial skill to keep in mind. 

3. Great SDR are eager to learn

Shaheem Alam, the co-founder of FiveRings Marketing, specializing in outsourced SaaS SDRs, comments, “A great SDR is coachable and eager to learn. After that, they are persistent, resilient, confident, and creative.”

“An excellent SDR has a willingness to learn and is always open to feedback,” confirms Neil Bhuiyan, expert SDR coach and founder of HappySelling.io

On the same note, don’t discount a candidate or becoming a sales development rep because of a lack of SDR experience. Neil continues, “Candidates with recruitment or retail experience tend to have a good foundation to be great SDRs.” 

A varied background can mean a potential teammate is eager to learn something new and up for trying something different. 

Embrace recruits that are willing to learn something new. “Candidates with recruitment or retail experience tend to have a good foundation to be great SDRs.” 

Neil Bhuiyan, expert SDR coach and founder of HappySelling.io

4. They’re consistent communicators

Yes, communication is always key. But frequency and quality of communication are also two essential factors to consider in great SDRs. 

James explains, “I value consistency. Although there can be variations in the SDR role, it requires someone who can prospect in a structured and consistent way.”

B2B Specialist Sales Advisor Javier Llorden says, “SDRs need refined interpersonal skills and to be problem-solving oriented. Excellent communication skills, especially active listening over the phone and video, are a must.”

When hiring SDRs, measuring this skill can be easy to assess during both the recruitment process and the interview. Mariona clarifies, “Finally, is their communication coherent and well structured? Are their stories easy to understand? Do they prove to be analytical with their views or conclusions?” Keeping these questions in mind should pave the way for hiring a great SDR. 

5. It’s all about the hustle

Rejection is no stranger to sales development reps. But, a good SDR can take a no and turn it into motivation for the next yes

“There’s a lot of rejection in the SDR role – are they able to step up even when things get tough?” echoes James. 

Aleksandra notes a unique trait that she found helpful in her SDR career, “Having hustle. Being SDR is a lot of work, and if you like hustling, it can be loads of fun as well. If you make sure you’re constantly keeping the wheel spinning, you’ll be on the road to achieving enormous success.”

And don’t forget the grit. Kyle Vamvouris, CEO of Vouris and expert SDR trainer, confirms, “ I look for high work ethic (grit) and an optimistic and unique personality.”

Hustle, tenacity, and grit mark the true makings of a rockstar SDR. 

“There’s a lot of rejection in the SDR role – are they able to step up even when things get tough?”

James Buckley, Head of Business Development at Attest

6. They never take themselves too seriously

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, a good SDR knows how to laugh at a tough day. Looking at rejection with a not-a-care attitude can help reps stay motivated and successful. 

Offering up his advice for those wanting to break into an SDR career, Seb Sanders, Account Executive here at Bloobirds, confides, “Being honest and genuine, a detachment from the prospects, and not taking oneself too seriously, will get you far.”

But, there can be a fine line between good humor and self-deprecation. From a recruitment standpoint, Mariona adds, “In the interview, do they seem comfortable? And do they see you as their equal? Part of being a great SDR is owning what they do and putting themselves as an equal to the prospect.”

The perfect mix of self-confidence and humility makes for a top-notch sales development rep. 

How to make sure you hire a great SDR

While understanding the traits of a good SDR is crucial, getting them to join your team is a whole other challenge. Besides making sure to ask the right SDR interview questions, here are a few other important things to consider:

1. Make your current employees stars

The first step is to make sure you’re attracting the right candidates before it’s even time to start looking for new hires. That way, you’ve got a pool of great SDRs to choose from before you’re on the hunt. 

Javier recommends, “To recruit top talent, the best option for me is to work together on employee branding. Attract great hires by getting your team to share their personal experiences out into the world.”

Encourage your current sales team to share achievements on their social media platforms. Top-performers attract other reps that are dedicated to succeeding. And before you know it, you’ll have recruits lining up. 

“To recruit top talent before the need arises, work on employee branding to attract stellar SDRs naturally.”

Javier Llorden, B2B Specialist Sales Advisor

2. Have a structured interview process in place

Kyle offers up his SDR interview process, “After the phone screen, I send any strong SDR candidates an email requesting they prepare a prospecting plan for me. Then, if the SDR candidate performs well on both the phone interview and written exercise, it’s time to move to the in-person interview.”

But don’t keep a great potential SDR waiting around. James shares, “Keep your interview process concise and varied to ensure you don’t miss out on the best quality candidates.”

Also, use team learnings to ensure your new hire will amplify your current SDRs’ best attributes. James continues, “Ensure you have a framework in place before hiring that’s based on attributes of your top performers.” To help create more replicable best practices across your SDR team, an all-in-one sales engagement platform can help.

3. Create a safe interview space

Making a candidate nervous won’t help you or the potential newbie figure out if it’s going to be a good fit. 

Mariona shares, “If I create a comfortable interview situation, candidates can relax. And it’s more likely that I get to know all parts of them. Even if I hear something about them that doesn’t quite click with what I was looking for in that position, I will encourage them to continue talking by continuing to generate a relaxed atmosphere.”

Mariona continues, “I believe that creating a safe interview environment aligns with how most of us like to interact with people. By being authentic, the whole meeting goes more smoothly.” 

Sharing your genuine work culture and personality helps both sides better decide if they should move forward. 

A final thought

No matter how stellar the SDR seems, if they don’t match your company culture, it’s just not going to work. Especially in sales development teams, where having a relaxed, friendly atmosphere makes a huge difference. You know your team best – make sure to find someone who fits right in. 

Want to turn great SDRs into exceptional ones? Learn more about how Bloobirds can empower your SDRs to prospect better, smarter, and faster.

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